The Long Goodbye

I think I’m still adjusting to it, to be honest with you.

That empty bedroom down the hall.

When my son came home from college for Thanksgiving, it was magical. He had only three days to visit, so we crammed in all the laughing, chatting, eating, and hanging out that we could muster in that short period of time. It was his first visit home since he went away to college in September and he seemed genuinely happy to be here.

To sit and watch him pester his sister, play with the dog, and stretch his lanky frame out across my couch again?

Pure awesome.

Christmas break was a whole month long…at least a week too long, we all decided. After the first week or so we had all settled into old routines for the most part. Almost as if he’d never left.

His floor was once again littered with socks, more of his friends were home to make plans with, and we were suddenly back in the business of parenting: curfews, chores, do-this, do-that, get a haircut, clean your room.

When he finally went back to school in early January, it was time.

And yet…

I found myself tip-toeing past his closed bedroom door, still thinking he was in bed and sleeping late. Buying his favorite snacks at the grocery store, only to remember that he won’t be home until April. Setting aside the Sunday comics for him when I brought in the newspaper.

Old routines; familiar little mothering stuff that only a mom understands.

Little mothering stuff that I can’t do for him anymore.

I sat in his room for a bit yesterday, after I had remade his bed with clean sheets in anticipation of his next visit.

This big boy room that we moved him to when his sister’s birth was imminent. The big boy bed he slept in straight from the crib. Awards hanging on the wall, movie ticket stubs taped together in a long strip on the mirror, silly photo booth pictures from Senior Ball stuck to the mirror.

The memories in this room are piled 16 years deep; and yet they are right on the surface of my heart.

He smiles back at me from the Senior Ball picture; or at least I think he does.

And I know he’s exactly where he needs to be right now.

But there’s a hole in that empty bedroom down the hall.


It’s Wednesday, and that means I’m also hanging out over at Moonfrye! Today I’m coming clean about how I almost lost it all last week but nobody was the wiser. Or at least, that’s how I remember it. Come visit me over there…I promise I won’t make you do any chores.


  1. I’m so not ready for this, but I know it will be here before I know it. I only hope I hold myself together half as well as you have.

  2. I am at my absolute happiest when both of my children are in my house interacting with each other. My daughter has been married for 9 years, and my son (finally) moved out a couple months ago. I’m not sure the hole ever completely closes.

  3. Sobbing! Sending you big virtual hugs…I just can’t imagine those mixed emotions. I can’t imagine them not being together and here…forever.

  4. Biggest lump in my throat.

    Of all time.

    I’ve only got two more years with my boy, and it’s already killing me.

    I love these posts, because you know, and that gives me comfort.

  5. oh honey.

    my sweet fella is 4 years old, sleeping under his transformer comforter right now. later in the night, it’s very likely that he will tiptoe into my room, scared from a nightmare, and snuggle in next to me where I can breathe in his sweet freshly bathed hair smell.

    i will try to hard to memorize that moment. because in two seconds time, Ill be sitting on his bed wishing it was easter break.

    *HUG* mama. Thank you for a glimpse into my future and to remind me to cherish his little self.

  6. The fact that you still have a bedroom for him is so special. I don’t think a lot of parents would do that.

  7. Made me dread next year when my girl flies off to higher education. I’ve had sleepover camp to practice with for years but I suspect it’s not the same.

  8. Aw, Sherri! The whole part about his big boy bed – kills me! That will be our girls. The beds they have are theirs til they move out. Beautifully written, as usual.

  9. Oh my heart is breaking for you Sherri…hugs

  10. It’s all just goodbyes now . . . but it makes the reunions all the more sweeter. And while my heart is breaking, it is also bursting with pride each time she (mine) returns and I see the woman she’s becoming.
    Luv to you mama. Living it as well.

  11. I can feel the empty when I read this . . . hugs, Sherri. He sounds like a truly special kid man.

  12. Oh I dread the day when my son leaves. He starts kingergarten this fall, but I know that once he does, the years will go so fast.

  13. I will come back and comment when I stop sobbing…

  14. Ann Marie says:

    You made me cry! Beautiful post. My son is 11. He talks nonstop, shows me goofy videos from his favorite websites, and tells me bad jokes. I will treasure these times because I know they are limited. Thank you 🙂

  15. ohp! *tear!*

  16. Spoken like a true mom. Lucas is only 2 1/2 and I’m not ready for this! So touching and heartfelt, Sherri.

  17. I can’t imagine a day when my kids are not all living in my home. Can I move next door to their colleges? Would that be too much?

  18. Yep, I knew you were handling the “going off to college” thing far too well. Those moments of missing really sneak up on you, don’t they? I remember my mom feeling the exact same way.

    On the other hand, I have a toddler who refuses to nap tearing up his bedroom right now – can I send him on over?

  19. Oh my heart.
    It aches for you and for every mother that sees their baby go to school.
    It hurts for my own mom.
    And one day it will be me.
    We raise these prices of ourselves only to set them free.

  20. So Bittersweet.

    This Is a long way off for me. But my kids insist they’re never leaving my house, for some reason they say they want to live with me forever. For now, I’ll let them think they will.

  21. Sherri, I’ve been waiting for this one. It’s perfect. He is where he’s supposed to be. And I know you’re happy about that. And a little sad too.

    This is my crystal ball. Right down to the big boy bed, in anticipating of the arrival of a new sister. I hope my boy turns out as well as yours has.

  22. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. It’s hard for me to read these posts of yours because they speak to me. I will be where you are in NO time. And I’m scared. Hold me, Sherri.

  23. My older son has started a count down of sorts by the amount of years (6 at last count) until he goes to college – can I start crying now, or should I wait til he actually leaves? Beautifully written, as always Sherri!

  24. I read this a few weeks ago, but didn’t comment because I was at work.

    But now…I had to come back. Because the Big Boy room? Is new here. And last night I sat in an empty nursery and took in the 2.5 years of struggles and joys and soft, quiet moments.

    Because my boy is a little boy. not a baby anymore.

    and yours is a man. not a little boy.

    we need wine, my friend.